How to Design Headstone Graphics

Updated March 23, 2017

Headstones mark the site of a burial. They provide details of the person interred there and may include an inscription and basic imagery. The typography, images, symbols and designs used on a headstone are referred to as its graphics. These may be chosen by living relatives or, more rarely, prespecified by the deceased while still alive. Headstones can last hundreds of years, so it's important to design graphics that can be easily read and won't age badly stylistically.

Design a font or use a pre-existing typeface for the headstone's text. A single font is more visually cohesive than multiple fonts. The simpler the font, the more easy it is to read. Common font choices include condensed Roman, modified Roman, Old English, Arial, Bernard, commercial script, Ashley script and Helvetica bold condensed. Browse sites such as Dafont to get inspiration for designing your own font.

Draw a border or suitable image. Headstone borders are generally floral, scrolling or simple, understated lines. Common images include angels, birds, bells, hands, anchors, knots, leaves and flowers. Restrict the amount of images used as they can distract from the force of the words.

Combine any imagery and text into a pleasing layout on a flat surface. The easiest way to do this is to draw or print out the separate elements and cut them up. Try different sizes of each of the elements as well as different positioning.


Decide on the text and how it will be ordered beforehand. The number and size of words will affect the size of the font and the overall layout. Large numbers of letters in a small font are difficult to read and are more likely to become indecipherable over time. Also bear in mind that some headstone providers charge by the letter while others offer a fixed fee service.

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About the Author

Justin Schamotta began writing in 2003. His articles have appeared in "New Internationalist," "Bizarre," "Windsurf Magazine," "Cadogan Travel Guides" and "Juno." He was a deputy editor at Corporate Watch and co-editor of "BULB" magazine. Schamotta has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Plymouth University and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University.